West Virginia State Government

“Week in the Know” January 10, 2018



Governor’s State of the State






Better safe than sorry on West Virginia budget Here
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice seems unable to resist any opportunity to belittle legislators, both Democrat and Republican. Last week he accused them of forcing some state agencies, including higher education, to reduce spending unnecessarily.



The Legislature


Audit of state Supreme Court planned, legislators advised
On the state legislative auditor’s office radar: the state Supreme Court.


Legislative auditors advised the legislative Post-Audits Committee Sunday that it plans to audit the Supreme Court this year.


Afterward, Legislative Auditor Aaron Allred said he could not elaborate on the announcement, except to say, “We have notified the Supreme Court that we’re planning on auditing them.”



Public Safety


How Firefighters Use Drones
Fire departments, it seems, are a significant chunk of those drone users. According to an infographic from Dronefly.com, an online drone retailer, 69 fire departments across the U.S. purchased drones between 2009 and early 2017. They represent around 20 percent of the 347 public safety agencies that bought drones during that window.


Wine Country Fires Prompt New Alert Legislation
North Bay lawmakers have introduced a bill to bolster the ability of emergency officials to contact residents who may be in harm’s way — a topic that has been scrutinized since last year’s devastating wildfires.


The legislation, introduced by multiple lawmakers, including state Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, would create uniform statewide emergency notification protocols. It also would require all counties to develop and adopt guidelines for using Wireless Emergency Alerts, a federally administered system that can send Amber Alert-style messages to cell phones in a disaster area.






Rural Internet Access: Easier in Some Areas Than Others
Nate Oswald works for a local fiber-optic network company. Even for him, though, it wasn’t easy to get internet service to his rural Reno County home.


He first had to convince two dozen neighbors to commit to contracting with his employer, IdeaTek, before the small but growing independent company agreed to string lines to the rural cluster of houses north of Hutchinson at the end of last year.



Opioid Pandemic & Pharmaceuticals


Drug Overdose Deaths Soar Nationally But Plateau in Some States
Deaths from opiates, cocaine and methamphetamines shot up by 35 percent in the United States between the year ending in May 2015 and that ending in May 2017, from about 49,000 to about 66,000, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis of statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



Health Care


Poor and Obese? Delaware Will Soon Cover Monthly Doctor Visits.
Starting January 2019, people who qualify for Medicaid and have a body mass index of 30 or higher will have access to at least 12 visits a year with a healthcare professional.





The Medical Marijuana Industry Has a Staff Problem in Hawaii: Not Enough
Hawaii’s cannabis industry is facing more setbacks as the state struggles with an understaffed program.


Seven of 11 positions are vacant at the Department of Health, which oversees the medical cannabis patient registry and dispensary licensing programs. The registry is down three of six people, while the dispensary program has four vacancies out of five.



In Other News


Is Microsoft’s ‘TV White Space’ the Answer to Wisconsin’s Rural Broadband Woes?
(TNS) — Wisconsin groups representing rural schools, technology, business and other interests are backing an ambitious plan to close the rural broadband gap that’s left millions of Americans without access to high-speed internet service.


The groups are part of a new coalition, called Connect Americans Now, that aims to extend high-speed internet access across the country. An estimated 23.4 million people in rural America remain without broadband, despite efforts by the government and service providers to extend access.